Our team was commissioned to create a short film to aid in inspiring and educating the Shriver Center community at their annual fundraising dinner. This marks our third collaboration with the Shriver Center team. Last year our film Revolution in my Backyard, won an award for best non-profit fundraising film and was featured on Do-Gooders. The theme for 2016 is Justice = Love. This is the cornerstone of our film. Exploring the many areas of impact that the Shriver Center has had on the war on poverty and aiming to “wow” the audience with both the progress and the mission of the Shriver Center. Illustrating how their fight for justice equals love.
The Shriver Center team often jokes about the fact that their mission encompasses so many things, that it is often hard to describe what it is that they actually do. In our early creative meetings our team pitched ideas that centered around the humor of that situation. After much back and forth with our staff, the team decided to dive into defining exactly what the center does once and for all. With that the Shriver team centered their narrative around a single character, a single mother.
After the structure for the writing was complete, the team at the center asked us if it was possible for an animation piece. "We are filmmakers, not animators," we thought. So after a brief panic moment, we asked "Why would you want it animated?". In previous years, the team has had difficulty securing a single impactful story that hit all the areas of service. They knew their impact was huge. They just didn't know how to talk about it. Until this film. Through our creative sessions we were able to lead the team toward an agreed understanding of EXACTLY what they do. While we are not animators, we understood the concern of limiting the visuals to one area. Our creative solution: use drawings, paper cut outs and art to illustrate the points in the script. This would allow us to show off the center and include every area, person and mission they serve. Each color, down to the selection of red for each person, was intentional. We incorporated their branding into each shot.
Our fig team is comprised of many classically trained artists. Rarely do we pull out our pencils and paints for clients , but this film needed to feel intimate. The idea is simple. The execution was not. We constructed each of the props you see in the film by hand. Including the pop-up book in the opening sequence.
If you think you have heard our narrator before, you probably have. Richard Steele, an award winning public media voice, donated his talents to the film. We are so grateful for the passion he brought to the table when working with our material. His voice was the perfect choice. While he is retired from WBEZ you can catch Richard on the Barber Shop Show.
After a few drafts back and forth, a lot of late nights and reshooting, our team had an approved draft that the team at the Shriver Center was thrilled with.
The film screened to a full house at the annual fundraising dinner at the Hyatt Regency. Amidst the company of Chris Kennedy, Shelia Kennedy, Irika Sargent, John Bowman, John G. Levi and Martha Minow. After screening a tearful address was given by Chastity Lord. She said, " I wasn't expecting to be as moved by that as I was. That was me. That was my mom. Seeing how much impact you all have had on so many lives, really touches me."
Beyond the event, the film is already having an impact on the center. They are using stills from the film in marketing materials, presentations and using the film to further educate others on why their work is so important. We are still waiting on the final tally of fundraising dollars raised and will post that here once we collect it.
Shriver Center Team: John Bouman, Venu Gupta, Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Harleen Singh, Michelle Nicolet
Voice Over: Richard Steele
Executive Producers: James Gustin and Michele Gustin
Producer: Megan Taylor
Director, Writer and Editor: Melissa Fox
Artists: Brian Carey and Brent Rolland
Design of Justice = Love: Kym Abrams Design